At the Paris Motor Show today, Volvo Car Corporation unveiled an aggressive plan to release a hybrid and significantly cut the CO2 emissions of its vehicles before 2012. In 2011, a micro-hybrid powertrain will be introduced with a start-stop function for the combustion engine. A year later the company will unveil a diesel hybrid followed by a plug-in hybrid in the future. No decisions have been made regarding price or which countries will offer the hybrid systems.
"Environmental focus is naturally a high priority," says Volvo Cars President and CEO Stephen Odell. "In parallel with work on a diesel hybrid, we are conducting an intensive hunt to cut CO2 emissions throughout the driveline range."
Engineers and designers are refining the company's existing vehicles and powertrains to improve aerodynamics and reduce rolling resistance.
"Together these measures offer huge potential and we will achieve significant results during the coming three-year period," says Odell.
Volvo Cars will unveil a micro-hybrid in early 2011 with a start-stop function that switches off the combustion engine when the vehicle is at a standstill.
"A micro-hybrid gives fuel savings of 4-5 percent in a mixed driving cycle," explains Magnus Jonsson, Senior Vice President, Research & Development at Volvo Cars. "However, the actual effect is considerably greater when driving in the city with its frequent stop-go traffic. Our system also has the benefit of being able to be adapted to most of our drivelines."
When combined with a manual gearbox, the driver will be able to control the start-stop function by putting the transmission into a gear to keep the engine running or selecting neutral to turn it off.
GTDi technology in petrol engines
When it comes to petrol engines, in 2009 Volvo Cars will start introducing a new generation of four-cylinder turbocharged engines with direct injection, a technology known as GTDi (Gas Turbo Direct injection).
"GTDi technology makes it possible to step down one engine size from five to four cylinders with unaffected performance, but with 20-30 percent lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions," explains Jonsson.
Diesel hybrid with an electric motor on the rear axle
In the diesel hybrid that Volvo Cars is developing, the front wheels are driven by an advanced variant of the company's five-cylinder D5 turbocharged diesel engine currently available in Europe with the rear wheels powered by a separate electric motor.
Cooperation between the two power sources and the distribution of power between the two pairs of wheels is electronically controlled to provide both effective four-wheel drive and the lowest possible fuel consumption regardless of the situation. The diesel hybrid will also incorporate an engine start-stop function.
"The diesel hybrid is a highly interesting solution since it is based on a sophisticated combination of the already energy-efficient diesel and electronics," says Odell. "Unlike a petrol hybrid, our solution will offer considerable environmental benefits both in city driving and when out on the open highway."
When it is launched in 2012, the diesel hybrid is expected to reduce fuel consumption by 10-15 percent.
Plug-in hybrid next step
The next step is a plug-in hybrid, which is scheduled to be introduced after 2012. The battery pack in a plug-in hybrid is recharged overnight with a regular household power socket, giving the vehicle an operating range of about 100 kilometres on electric power alone. If necessary, the vehicle's combustion engine starts up to recharge the batteries while driving.
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